RAPS is short for Regional Animal Protection Society, a registered charity and operator of a sanctuary which houses and cares for nearly 500 homeless or abandoned cats in Richmond, BC, Canada. The Neko Files is a celebration of the sanctuary and all those who live and work there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Princess first came to my attention by doing this:

photo provided by Michele

Ages ago I looked after a golden retriever who used to sit this way, but I'd never seen a cat do it. Leslie tells me that "Princess is one of just 3 cats at the sanctuary who can lie with their legs straight out behind them."
So - very unusual! Cat yoga, anyone?

While not as assertively or determinedly friendly as some cats at the sanctuary (i.e. not so likely to climb up your leg like Sadie or give you a hug like Leonard), Princess does seem to like people and is certainly amenable to being stroked now and again. I was surprised to find out that she wasn't tame when she was brought to RAPS.

Princess and Groucho
From Leslie:
"Princess came to us as a young feral who was part of a household of around 30 cats and kittens. The woman who'd kept all those cats was forced to move from her rental house in Vancouver when the owner decided to sell it. We named the little tabby with the bushy tail Princess because of her delicate beauty.  It took about one year for her to learn to trust us and now she's completely tame."

Princess and Squirrel

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Morgan (Fairchild)

Morgan has the kind of curly tail you'd expect to see in some breeds of dog but rarely in a cat.

photo provided by Michele

When she came to RAPS about a year ago, there was already a Morgan living at the sanctuary. The fact that this other Morgan was of the male persuasion led many to refer to curly tailed Morgan as a boy as well, a problem elegantly solved by some by lengthening her name to Morgan Fairchild after the actress, who is also a blonde.

Morgan Fairchild

From Leslie, here's the scoop on cat Morgan:
"Morgan was surrendered to RAPS because of inappropriate urinating. I've never seen her do any such thing (but that doesn't mean much). When she first came to the sanctuary, she hid beneath her blankets. She seems to like people a lot, but wishes all the other cats would take a hike. For awhile, she was defensively aggressive with them. She's gradually becoming more tolerant."

photo provided by RAPS

Monday, December 28, 2009

Good-bye, Zulu

I'm sorry to have to report that we lost Zulu, our vociferous Bengal, last night. I heard from Debbie that "he passed in his sleep while cuddling with his buddies."

photo taken November 30, 2009

Although he did seem to look skinnier than ever when I saw him last week, it never quite clicked that we might be due to lose him so soon. I guess it never does. Even as recently as Saturday I'm told he was up to his usual old tricks and managed to steal a sizable portion of Ann's hamburger.

Zulu of old
photo provided by RAPS

We loved you Zulu, for better and for worse, for meow and for mooch. Your voice, for so long heard from one end of the sanctuary to the other, will continue to ring in the ears - and the hearts - of all those who knew you.

Zulu & friends
photo provided by Michele

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Ranjit was given his name by RAPS founder Carol Reichert, who named him in honour of our vet.

Ranjit is a friendly cat who must have a little Mario in him, as he's got a few devoted followers of his own. According to Leslie:
"It’s my perception that timid, semi-feral boy cats are drawn to Ranjit. Cats like black and white Domino. Maybe it’s because he’s so big and they believe he’ll protect them (or, they think they can hide behind him). Come to think of it, most of the boys who love Mario are timid ferals. Confident, tame boys don’t follow him around."

He's also fond of children. Debbie says,
"He likes to sit with little girls. I remember a little girl from church coming out one day and she was only five or six, and he jumped into her lap and her was bigger than she was; he totally filled her lap."

Updated November 29, 2010: Sadly, after experiencing deteriorating health in recent months, Ranjit has now left us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Debbie introduced me to Mika the other day, pointing out a tiny, wide-eyed black cat who "looks like she has icing dusted on the tops of her ears."

She went on to tell me a sad little story that's hard to imagine looking at spunky Mika bobbing and weaving between us as she makes a bid for our undivided attention.
"She came from the girl who used to be the receptionist at [the] 5 Road [shelter]. This was a cat that was living outside of her place and she had kittens. As young as she is, she had five kittens. ...She's less than a year. She was just a baby, having babies.... And two of them didn't make it, and one was taken by a coyote, so I think there were two kittens left and they both were adopted. And she [the receptionist] wasn't able to keep her because she was moving, so she brought her in here and she's really become a favorite."

Personality-wise, Debbie describes Mika as "very hyper, but she's cute as can be."

Leslie seconds this:
"Hyper is correct, but she's also quite aggressive with the other cats in her building. Smacks them around. It's a good thing she's so darned cute and loves having her tummy rubbed. It's also probably a good thing that she's so small, so she likely doesn't do too much damage to her victims."

Updated September 29, 2010: Mika has been adopted!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I was first introduced to Soprano as a good-looking and spirited tabby who was - and is - a particular favorite of fellow volunteer Shannon.

Not having previously met any cats called Soprano, I was curious where her name had come from. Two theories sprung to mind:

cat sings soprano 
drawing by Claire


The Sopranos 
ears and whiskers by Claire

After hearing Shannon's greeting of "Soprano girl!" answered with numerous enthusiastic exclamations of "mraowr!!", I began to suspect my first guess may be the correct one. It was.
Soprano is a talkative girl who knows how to project.

Soprano is fond of sitting on top of the fridge, leaning over the edge to be as close as possible to passers-by who might talk with her, feed her chicken or exchange headbutts. If on your own you don't stray close enough for her to ram her tabby "M" into your forehead, she will attempt to entice you to come nearer by waving a paw in your general direction.

Hard to argue with a paw like that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Neko's Sing Along Blog

OK, technically "write along," but that's just not as punchy a title, is it?
Anyway - the Neko Files welcomes you to leave comments and share anecdotes or ask questions about your favorite feature felines!

This blog is currently set up to allow anonymous comments, saving you from having to create an ID just so you can leave a comment. For anyone who's wanted to leave a comment but had trouble (and I know this applies to at least one of you), here are a few easy steps to follow.

  1. Click on Comment at the end of the posting of choice and type in the box below.
  2. In the drop down box next to “Comment as”, select Anonymous. If you want to reveal your identity in the text of your comment itself, I’ll be delighted -- but you don’t have to.
  3. Click Post Comment.
  4. You’ll be asked to complete a word verification ("captcha") to prove you’re not an evil wicked spammer. Enter the letters you see in the box below them. Click Post Comment.
  5. Your comment will appear immediately for newer posts, and after I confirm it for older ones. 

Leo and Daphne...
... were going to leave a comment, but they got distracted by licking themselves


Like Squeaks, TJ is another cat who came to RAPS after straying into a home that had already reached pet capacity.

From Leslie (originally published in The Love Blog in July 2009):
"TJ (Tom Jones) strayed into the yard of a Richmond couple who already had 8 cats, so they brought him to RAPS. He's a sweet older cat who was briefly adopted to a young woman who was training to become a doctor. Unfortunately, she left TJ alone in his new home for 48 hours while she was working at a hospital. Uncertain of his new environment, TJ urinated on her bed. Had the woman given him a chance to settle into her home, we are confident that he wouldn't have continued that behaviour, as he isn't known as a sprayer at the RAPS sanctuary."

TJ is certainly a sweet cat. Barbara writes in her blog that he "has one of the more unique meows, all I can say is it sounds more like a quack. Affectionate and loves food, thus the quacking begins when food is ready."

I didn't get a particularly duck-like meow when I visited him the other week, but then I'd just finished chatting with Squeaks and may have built up a temporary immunity to funny meows. And, perhaps more importantly, I didn't have any food on me to warrant a proper quack.

Updated July 30, 2010: I did eventually get to hear the famous TJ meow. He began slowing down in recent months and would spend more and more time sitting on a shelf in the bathroom of the doublewide, giving a quack or two to whoever entered.
Over the past week or so he was fading fast. On Tuesday he had to be taken on that one final trip to the vet. Fortunately, he was able to be accompanied by Karen, who's always been very fond of him.
Good-bye TJ. You'll be missed.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Squeaks, says the RAPS sanctuary gallery page, was "named for his adorable voice" - something it took a while for me to get a chance to hear.

photo provided by RAPS

Squeaks isn't one of those aggressively friendly cats who will insist on introducing themselves to any and all visitors and refuse to let them go without a cuddle. I had to make a point of introducing myself to Squeaks and was quickly treated to that trademark meow.

A "lovely boy" just like the sanctuary website says, Squeaks came to us after he "strayed into a home that had already reached its pet capacity."

For anyone who's taken even longer than I did to make Squeaks' acquaintance, go and introduce yourself. You won't be disappointed. And he'll be delighted.

Updated April 30, 2012: Squeaks sadly passed away last week after many happy (and noisy) years at the sanctuary. He was loved and will be missed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Like Cecilia, Jasmine was living in a cat colony before she was trapped and brought to the sanctuary. Unlike Cecilia, while she's no longer quite so terrified of humans as she was initially, she's never really become tame. You may look, but not touch.

photo provided by RAPS

She may be strict about the hands-off rule with humans, but she has no such problems with other cats, as you can see in the picture below:

Jasmine and Travis
photo provided by RAPS

Maybe someday Mario will take her under his social wing, or she'll discover that some treats are worth approaching a human hand for. Until then, we'll just have to make do with the visual of this pretty kitty.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


When you get to know some of the cats at the sanctuary, it's hard to understand why they aren't living in some nice home. With others, as nice as they may be, the sanctuary might be the best place for them.

From Leslie (originally published in The Love Blog in July 2009):
"Andy has a long history with RAPS. Before the sanctuary was built, Andy and his brother, Amos, had been fostered as kittens and then adopted to homes that didn't prove permanent. The boys were among the earliest residents of the sanctuary 10 years ago, and Andy became our first notorious sprayer. That is why he is still living with us at the age of 13, even though he is a friendly lap cat."

photo provided by RAPS

It's well known and proven fact at the sanctuary that items left unattended in cat-accessible places will get peed on. We could have a RAPS action film titled Peed On in 60 Seconds...

Andy's allotted text on the gallery page is too short to be able to mention both of his special traits, so it just focuses on the more sociable one:
"Can I sit on your lap? Can I, can I?"

Andy is very fond of lap time. Here are a few pictures of him doing what he likes best (OK, one of the things):

Andy - lap's eye view 1
"Don't be afraid of my love bites -- I don't have many teeth left!"

Andy - lap's eye view 2
~the joy of being softed~

Andy - lap's eye view 3

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Among all the confirmed cuddlers to be found among the tame cats at the sanctuary, there is the odd one that proves determined to be a bit of a challenge to deal with. Like Jerry and Baby, July has an interesting enough personality to have won herself a spot in the “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr (or Ms) Hyde Cats at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary” feature in the RAPS blog.
"July is definitely a cat with a split personality. She was surrendered to RAPS after she bit her owner’s grandchild. Perhaps the tot provoked the attack, but it was the last straw for July’s owner. July likes to sit on laps and pretend to be friendly, but after just a few pats, she begins to hiss and swat. She wears a collar so that visitors can recognize her and give her a wide berth. Volunteers who allow July on their laps know to watch for the twitching tail that signals that she’s had enough attention for now."
photo provided by RAPS

July is one of a few cats at the sanctuary sporting collars, our code for "Beware of Cat." It's not a scientific system by any means (we tried one on Jingles when she was still being particularly swatty, but she objected and took it off, while Baby insisted on a no-collar clause in his contract due to past collar trauma) but it does help to remind people, particularly visitors, that not all the tame cats will welcome affection all of the time.

Perhaps some cats just aren't suitable for beginners. When I lived with my parents, we had a Jeckyll & Hyde cat named Archie who'd suddenly switch from purring and enjoying lap time and softing to scratching and biting when he'd had enough - not bothering with so much as a tail twitch to give the humans a hint.

Compared to that, July may be on the moody side, but at least she'll tell you when she feels a mood coming on.

Updated March 7, 2012: July's health began to fail over the past couple of months. Staff did what they could to help her and keep her comfortable, and she even seemed to rally with some of her former feistiness a couple of times there, but we finally lost her this past weekend. Good-bye to a little girl with a big personality.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


RAPS cats come by their names in a variety of ways. Some come with names, while others either never had human names or can't tell us what name their former people used to call them. These are given names when they arrive at the sanctuary.

Here's what the photo caption on the gallery page says about Franko:
"I'm named after the nice man who found me. There, now the name story is out of the way - RUB MY BELLY!"

photo provided by RAPS

photo provided by Michele

The name story may be out of the way, but there's a bit more to Franko's story at RAPS. From Leslie (originally published in The Love Blog in July, 2009):
"Franko, a large brown tabby and white male, stopped eating and became lethargic. A blood panel showed severe lipidosis, a liver problem caused by his failure to eat. Our vet put Franko on IV and we visited him daily to provide love and to coax him to eat. His condition worsened and he became thin, frail and barely responsive, but we weren't willing to give up on him. The vet tube fed Franko twice daily and continued to administer medication for his liver. Franko began to improve and was able to spend brief periods out of his cage for exercise. Our vet noticed that the cat held his neck tipped to one side, a position characteristic of potassium deficiency, and began supplements. Franko's recovery escalated and, after five weeks of hospitalization, he was able to return to our sanctuary.

From his experience, we learned to never give up too quickly. Since that time, we have successfully treated several cats with lipidosis at the sanctuary. When the animals become jaundiced (yellow) from lipidosis, it can take several weeks to heal them. Our Animal Care Staff provide intensive care to the cats in their home environment, sometimes after just a few days on IV at the vet. We believe our charges deserve every chance at life."

These days, doing well and free to roam around the sanctuary, Franko seems a long way from the sickly, almost unresponsive cat Leslie describes above. Today's Franko has a lot more in common with the cheerful upside down cat from the old RAPS gallery picture. All about warm laps and cuddles.

Franko - lap's eye view

Monday, December 7, 2009


 photo provided by RAPS

Back in May, the RAPS Blog did a post titled Cat Sponsorship is a Gift of Love which featured three of the many cats who would benefit from sponsors (see my post on Panda for more information on the program). One of these is Elizabeth, "a friendly, well-mannered senior who loves attention" and who had at that time been at the sanctuary a year and a half and is still waiting for her chance to go to "a new forever home."
"Elizabeth's Story -- A tabby named Elizabeth lived with a woman and her brother for 9 years. When the brother died, the woman was distraught and went to live with relatives in Germany. Sweet, gentle Elizabeth was given to a friend, but the cat was traumatized by the loss of her family and didn't adapt well to her new home. When Elizabeth was surrendered to RAPS, we were told that her original owner might return to Canada in 6 months time and reclaim her cat. Sadly, that day never came."
We sometimes see that, cats surrendered with a hope or a promise to return and take them home. Best of intentions, but sometimes the change in situation that would make it possible never comes. And so cats like Elizabeth still make their home at the sanctuary.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


P.J. is a big, fluffy grey and white fellow who most typically inhabits a tabletop basket in the tea room.

photo provided by RAPS

The following was written by Marianne for the RAPS blog in April:
"P.J. just showed up in someone’s back yard one day. The kind home owners put food and water out for him and tried to befriend him, but he was having none of that. With the assistance of RAPS trappers, P.J. was brought to the cat sanctuary where he eventually settled in quite happily. Like Cecilia, [who also became friendly and trusting] he had most likely been abandoned by his former owners. ... most cats in such trapped groups never become tame."
photo provided by Michele

With the tea room being P.J.'s napping place of choice at the moment, he's not generally a hard cat to find. Warm, sunny days may see him setting up shop on this table outside... just meters away from the tea room door.

Updated April 26, 2010: Unfortunately P.J., who was of late living with not only kidney disease but a heart murmur as well, left us this weekend. He will be missed.